Free Press Journal

Car gadgets that’ll make driving easier

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The modern automobile is only getting smarter, but as we wait for our self-driving future, there are a few simple gadgets that can make driving a little more convenient for any car owner. We’ve rounded some of them up here

Car charger

If you’ve got some emergency calls (not texts) to make, you need your phone’s GPS, or you just want to make sure your device lasts through the end of the night, a simple car charger like the Aukey CC-T6 should do the job. This particular model sits compact and charges fast, with support for Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 standard.


Bluetooth car kit

Those chargers are handy if you need to use your phone while driving — to do that safely, you should look into a Bluetooth car kit. Something like the iClever Himbox HB01 is a cheap, convenient way to add Bluetooth functionality to your car, which in turn lets you wirelessly stream music, make hands-free calls, talk to assistants like Google Now or Siri, and the like. (Provided you have an aux-in port.) If you’re mostly focusing on calls, though, a full-on speakerphone like the Jabra Freeway is big and bulky, but serves up clear and powerful sound.

Fobo Tire Plus

Probably not, but if you can afford the premium, it’s a straightforward tool that can help reduce a common headache for car owners. It’s a set of Bluetooth-enabled sensors that measure tire pressure and temperature in real time, send that data back to your phone, and warn you of any forthcoming issues.

Phone holder

All of that becomes less useful if you have to reach over and grab your device just to confirm what you’re doing. A basic holder puts the phone where you can see it, making things just a little less stressful. Magnetic mounts tend to work just fine here — one like the TechMatte MagGrip Air Vent is cheap yet unobstructive, while its CD slot-based sibling is a bit sturdier for those who can spare the space.

GPS system

With the smartphone becoming the hub of everything we do, dedicated GPS systems have understandably dwindled in popularity. And truthfully, if you’re fine with your phone filling that role now, there’s no pressing need to switch. But if you’re worried about saving battery, using the phone separately, or potentially losing service, there’s still value in a device like the Garmin Nuvi 55LM.

Automatic

The Automatic car adapter positions itself as a “Fitbit for cars,” and, for the most part, that’s what it is. It plugs into an OBD-II port — which should be in most cars produced in the past 20 years — and measures your braking, speeding, and fuel conserving habits, eventually giving you a score on how smooth you were on a given week. It can also sense and diagnose any problems that activate your check engine light, presenting them in an app instead of making you head to a mechanic.

Dash cam

A public privacy concern aside, a dash cam is good to have on hand if you’re worried about having footage to present for any future accidents. Something like the Rexing V1 should help you take protective measures here — it’s relatively compact, captures 1080p video, and has received positive feedback on Amazon.

– Compiled by Ankita Das